Ahead of the storm


We’ve just returned from four days dodging ‘mini’ storms on the beautiful Isle of Mull, before narrowly missing being stranded by the current hurricane force winds (also known as Hurricane Bawbag). I had many opportunities to paint my favourite colour. Blae is a Scots word, sorely lacking in English (well, for an art teacher it would be useful!), and it means slate blue/grey. The colour of storm clouds or a heavy sea.
I don’t think I could ever tire of Scotland’s west coast,* I’m spellbound by the colours, light and wildlife. On this trip I managed to paint outside once in a rare spell of calm, the rest of the time I peered through the tiny windows of our blackhouse or painted from memory.

Each morning I went down to the shore at Haunn with Ashby, where he occupied himself with the important task of fighting kelp and limpets. On Monday morning I came across an otter only 2 or 3 meters away, holding a large sea urchin. The strength of the wind was such it didn’t notice me for a few precious seconds. It didn’t notice Ashby at all, nor he it – just shows you can indeed see wildlife with a dog in tow particularly if the dog is glaikit enough. The sea eagles of Mull are not fussed by dogs, either, unless the dog in question is small enough to form a tasty lunch. After scanning the skies each day we finally saw two sea eagles yesterday morning, they flew right above us as we headed for the ferry. Pure white tails and a 2 metre wingspan – there’s no way you could mistake them for anything else.

We stayed in a beautifully restored blackhouse at Haunn (meaning harbour), on Treshnish Point. See www.treshnish.co.uk/ I wholeheartedly recommend a stay there, certainly for lovers of wildlife. I’d been there before with my family 20 years ago, but nowadays there is electricity and running water! The farm has won all sorts of environmental accolades. In the last sketch, of Treshnish Point, you can see some little black blobs. They’re the herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle, who sheltered in a line from the howling winds.

* On second thoughts, yes, I can tire of the west coast in certain circumstances – I remember once abandoning a fully cooked dinner on the fire and spending all night hungry in the tent rather than face the midges any longer. And this was on the beach where the midges are usually less bad.

1 thought on “Ahead of the storm”

  1. I love Mull and wild seascapes – and I'm quite jealous of you seeing an otter. Particularly like your first sketch – and your blae colours…

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